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The Man Behind Norway’s Top Female Kettlebell Lifters

If you’ve been around the Kettlebell Sport world in the past couple years, you may have noticed that the Norwegian female lifters are making impressive strides in the sport, especially in double kettlebell events. You may have read this article about the 3 record-breaking female Master of Sports Norway has produced, and noticed that all of them named the same man as their coach: Mauricio Kjeldner. Personally, I love learning how other coaches coach, and I was curious to ask Mauricio some questions – clearly he is a talented coach who has produced some amazing athletes! Check out the interview below for his responses.


1. What is your athletic background?
I started with soccer when I came to Norway, but found a bigger love for handball (which I still play today). I played for some big clubs in Norway. I began swimming at a young age and competed in that as well. Around 13 years of age, I started playing golf, and in high school I began practicing martial arts. I was elected to represent Norway at the European Championships, and that same year I got 15th place at the Norwegian Nationals in golf.I also practice Olympic lifting here and there. I have coached people in every sport I have done.

 

2. How did you find Kettlebell Sport?
Due to my handball career, I sustained several injuries. Since I’m a small player (1.67cm), I often got beat up – and my shoulder took most of the beating. Therefore, I developed a dysfunctional shoulder which got dislocated at almost every handball training. Right after I started working as a personal trainer, I got in contact with a specialist in shoulder injuries. He showed me mobility exercises, and some of which used kettlebells. At the time, I knew Nils Lundgren was practicing Kettlebell Sport. I decided to join him, and my shoulders are thankful for that. I found a lot of enjoyment in the kettlebell training, so I quit the traditional strength training, and started doing Kettlebell Sport.

 

3. What are your best results and who is your coach?
Long Cycle 2×24 63 reps at 68kg bodyweight (Gold medal at 2014 IUKL World Championships)
Biathlon 2×24 83 reps Jerk, 110 reps, Snatch at 68kg bodyweight
Long Cycle 2×32 25 reps at 68kg bodyweight
My coach is Nils Martin Lundgren.
4. What are your personal goals for lifting kettlebells?
Master of Sport in Long Cycle, and maybe in Biathlon as well.

 

5. When and how did you start coaching kettlebell lifting?
I started coaching back in 2012. Well, I was more like a support to the girls and guys back then. But after a while, I saw that (mostly the girls) had real potential, and good progression in the lifts. I felt I could get them to be even better.

 

6. What are the most important aspects of being a good coach and getting results from your students?
Being around my students in training and competition makes a big difference. Even though my students live across the country, some even a six hours drive from me, I travel to them for training sessions or camps. Here we make the baseline for the next training period. These kinds of trainings have been crucial for their development.
I always have to be present at some point to get them forward in their success.

 

7. Do you think a coach needs to be a good lifter to be a good coach?
I don’t see myself as a good lifter, and my students are doing okay. If we look at other sports, we can see many great athletes who are coached by people who are not necessarily great athletes themselves. However, I do think a coach should have the experience of competing in all different types of competitions. I don’t think you can throw a student into the lion’s den without being there once or twice yourself. How can you teach without experience?

 

8. What would you say is the biggest difference in the training of someone who is just lifting kettlebells for fun (8-20kg)
versus someone who starts to train seriously (20kg and above)?
Well, I don’t train many people that are not serious, besides a few clients. If a client wants to lift kettlebells for fun, it requires much less planning and guidance. From my own experience, those who lift for fun, have problems adapting to and accepting the mental pain and struggle that comes with the sport.

 

9. You coach some of the top female lifters in Long Cycle with two kettlebells, which was not an accepted lift for women up until a couple years ago. When did you start coaching women to lift double kettlebells? Have you always felt it was something the women should do?
I actually started with coaching women on double bells back in 2012. Unfortunately, the girls I coached back then do not lift anymore (two of them were already at 60 reps with 2x16kg).
When I first got into the sport, I couldn’t understand why women were not allowed to lift two kettlebells. From my own experience, I saw that women had better benefits with two kettlebells. In my opinion, it is old-fashioned to think that women can’t do the same things as men. Just look at the best results for women across the globe – they are already crushing the results of many of the men. And this is only the beginning.

 

10. Why do you think you have such great results from your female students in Long Cycle?
First, I really like to coach people. That is one of the reasons why I work as a personal trainer. I use a lot of my spare time planning and following up with my students. I have strict guidelines as a coach, which is what my students need.
Second, I don’t see the students as one group; I see them as individuals. I analyze my students’ strength, mobility, weaknesses… their composition. No person is built the same, therefore no one can lift the same. Nobody gets the same programming. I see many coaches who do write the same programming for all their students, but I don’t think that works well.
Third, I don’t hide my feelings about my athletes’ performance, whether it’s good or bad, whether it’s in training or competition. I strongly believe honesty, faithfulness, and two-way communication goes a long way in coaching and its results.

 

11. How much time do you spend coaching technique versus coaching mindset?
I spend more time on technique with new lifters than experienced lifters, and I spend more time coaching mindset with the experienced lifters than the new ones. But this may vary, especially before a big competition.

 

12. It takes a long time to develop proper technique and conditioning for Kettlebell Sport. How do you keep your athletes motivated when their ultimate goal is often so far in the future?
For my new lifters, we aim for numbers, then the rank will follow. Competitions are always the big goals. In the initial period, we select what competitions we want to compete in, we see where we stand at the moment, and then we work hard towards the competition. We aim big, but focus first on the first competition, then the second, and so on. My students’ main focus is the training for the week to come. As long as they follow the plan, they will get to the ultimate goal, and I think that in itself keeps them motivated.

 

13. Why do you enjoy coaching? What is the best part for you?
To see the joy in my students eyes. Tears, smiles, laughter – that’s worth all the work! I like the idea that what I’m teaching my students, they can past along to their own students. Since we are a small but strong kettlebell community in Norway, we have a lot of meaning, thought, and emotion for the sport. I like take part in shaping the future of Kettlebell Sport.

 

14. Is there anything in particular about your coaching or lifting philosophy that you feel is different from other kettlebell coaches in the world? Please explain.
We all are different people, and in my experience, different people require different types of coaching. I don’t understand why some people coach a group as if they are one person! If you are an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph, you will have big problems performing a similar lifting pattern. Just look at weightlifting: you will not find a similar lifting pattern there.

 

15. Do you have any tips for lifters out there who are coaching themselves?
Planning is important, but will is everything. I think you have to be an experienced lifter to manage your own coaching. I would recommend video analysis comparing yourself to experienced lifters.

 

16. What does a typical day in the life of Mauricio Kjeldner look like?
Each day is different. But my day usually starts with working with a few clients, then training kettlebell around 12-14 o’clock. Then more clients before I leave work. In the evening, I go to handball training or football matches. On the weekends, I play handball or golf. I guess I’m an active guy!

17. What does the future of Kettlebell Sport look like?
I think we will watch women in every weight class lift 2x24kg at the World Championship. And while we stand there, we will say this to each other: “Remember back in 2010, when women were only allowed to lift 1x24kg, and they couldn’t do Biathlon”, and then we will laugh!
So yes, it’s time for equality in Kettlebell Sport.
In general, I believe Kettlebell Sport will grow worldwide, and I hope that each country’s sports federation will approve this sport.


Mauricio Kjeldner is a Kettlebell Sport coach and personal trainer in Norway. He is a Rank 1 athlete in Long Cycle and Biathlon. He has 2 Master of Sport students (Ina Ruud Winther and Ellen Hammering), and one Master of Sport International Class student (Beate Kårstad Støfring). 

Mauricio can be found on Instagram @coach_kjeldner

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